The Big Issue is a non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) and Public Benefit Organization (PBO). They produce an award-winning, high-quality monthly consumer magazine focusing on the social issues of the day, which self-employed sell to make a living.
The Big Issue provides social development services to vendors. The organization creates jobs for the unemployed, vulnerable, and socially excluded adults who, through The Big Issue, can work for themselves by selling the magazine as independent, micro-entrepreneurs. They do not work for the Big Issue. Family preservation and counseling, financial literacy, English literacy, HIV and health support, art classes, music classes, crèche services (when funded), and study bursaries. The organization also publishes the little issue, a unique 48-page, multilingual magazine for Grade R-3 learners distributed directly to schools and NGOs nationwide every three months (one magazine per school semester). The social development program provides vendor support, including vocational, life, and business skills training and guidance counseling. The Big Issue aims to actively encourage and equip vendors to graduate from this job creation project into formal economic activity.